Something lies unseen in your home, with a big impact on the environment.
Do you know how many of the products you use every day contain palm oil? Some estimate that it is in about half of all packaged products sold in the supermarket, like your shampoo, ice cream, and detergent. It is the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet because it’s extremely versatile and cheap to grow.
So why does that matter?
Palm oil grows in the same area as tropical rainforests, and the uncontrolled clearing of land for conventional oil palm plantations has led to widespread loss of these irreplaceable forests. The cultivation of palm oil has been linked to deforestation and the burning of peat lands in Indonesia and Malaysia, and blamed for the smoke haze that recently choked Singapore.
Palm oil plantations have also been connected to the destruction of habitat of endangered species such as orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers as well as the displacement of indigenous peoples who have lost their land and livelihoods.
Palm fruit, having been harvested, is piled up in order to be weighed at Musim Mas, Riau, Sumatra. The palm oil plantation is owned by the Indonesian palm oil producer Musim Mas and has been certified according to RSPO criteria for sustainable palm oil production..
Weighing the palm fruit harvest at Musim Mas palm oil plantation, Sumatra, Indonesia.
A worker dressed for fertilizer application at Musim Mas plantation. Workers' protective clothing reads 'say no to paraquat,' a toxic chemical used to clear weeds that has been banned by the RSPO.
Trucks drive around the plantations collecting palm fruit to take back to the central mill for processing.
A view over the palm oil plantation, photograped from a fire tower, Musim Mas, Riau, Sumatra.
So should you avoid palm oil?
The short answer is no—palm oil doesn't have to be unsustainable.
Growers, traders, manufacturers, retailers, investors and consumers can all contribute to a system in which enough palm oil is produced to meet the world’s needs while the environment, animals and local communities are protected.
With your help, WWF wants to encourage more companies to commit to and follow through on using only certified sustainable palm oil. We’re working with the industry to help it grow and prosper without sacrificing any more tropical forests.
How can you help?
Look for the RSPO label to ensure you purchase products made with certified sustainable palm oil. This label gives you the confidence that the palm oil was produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way.
Can't find the RSPO label? Look for the Green Palm label to purchase products that support the transition to certified palm oil. Proceeds from Green Palm certificates help growers fund the transition to sustainable palm oil.